Circle of Life Awards honor innovative palliative and end-of-life care

July 11, 2019

Three programs that expand the reach of palliative and end-of-life care will be honored with the 2019 Circle of Life Award, along with one program that will be awarded a Citation of Honor. The American Hospital Association, a major sponsor of the Circle of Life Award, now in its 20th year, says the initiative celebrates innovative organizations and programs across the nation that have made great strides in palliative and end-of-life care.

Western Reserve Navigator, Hospice of the Western Reserve, Cleveland; Palliative Care Services, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, CO; and the University Health System Palliative Care Team, San Antonio, will each receive the award at a ceremony on July 26 in San Diego. A Citation of Honor will be presented to the Medical University of South Carolina Palliative Care Program, Charleston, SC.

“The work of this year’s honorees represents the most innovative and creative thinking in end-of-life care,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. In the statement. “Through the use of technology, integrated systems of care and community support, these programs have raised the bar for meeting the needs of patients and their families.”

Western Reserve Navigator (WRN) Hospice of the Western Reserve – Cleveland, OH

The Navigator program provides comprehensive community-based palliative care to nearly 1,300 patients per year, with a creative, patient-centered culture driving its every action. In addition to using advanced practice registered nurses and social workers, WRN is supported by a longstanding, fully integrated volunteer program. Additionally, the parent organization, which serves over 6,000 hospice patients annually, has a home-based pediatric palliative care program. In-house developed software and analytics inform the organization’s strategic plan and innovative care. Leaders make the prevention of employee burnout and compassion fatigue a priority, which reduces turnover and improves continuity of care.

Palliative Care Services, UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital – Aurora, CO

University of Colorado Hospital deploys an interdisciplinary team of specialists to work with underrepresented populations, including through telehealth options that link palliative care to patients in hard-to-reach rural areas. A neuropalliative care clinic serves a largely disabled and older population of patients with neurologic illnesses and their families. Driven by a staff that is innately curious and eager to learn, UCH’s multiple educational offerings include a hospital and palliative medicine fellowship, chaplain residency, and a Master of Science degree in Palliative Care. UCH also pursues innovative legacy work with patients and families.

University Health System Palliative Care Team – San Antonio, TX

The University Health System’s Palliative Care Team is an integrated inpatient and outpatient community-based program serving adults, adolescents, children, geriatrics and perinatal patients across 22 counties. The program makes a particular effort to reach underserved, rural and immigrant patients, guided by a strong population health ethic. Consistent with that orientation is a partnership with Promotores, community health workers who serve migrant patients and families experiencing homelessness. As part of its commitment to education, a palliative care medical fellowship is offered through its partnership with UT Health San Antonio and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Citation of Honor will be presented to Medical University of South Carolina Palliative Care Program – Charleston, SC

The Medical University of South Carolina offers inpatient and outpatient adult palliative care and a comprehensive pediatric program that includes maternal and fetal care, participation in a statewide initiative and work with a national consortium of pediatric programs. The program uses telehealth to reach rural locations. In addition, a medical and legal partnership connects patients with attorneys for assistance with delayed rent, utility payments and documents.

The 2019 awards are supported, in part, by grants from the California Health Care Foundation, based in Oakland, Calif., and the Cambia Health Foundation, based in Portland, OR. Major sponsors of the 2019 awards are the American Hospital Association, the Catholic Health Association and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and National Hospice Foundation.

The awards are cosponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the National Association of Social Workers, the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association/the Hospice & Palliative Credentialing Center/the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Foundation.

Circle of Life Award nominations were reviewed and site-visited by a selection committee that included leaders from medicine, nursing, social work and health administration. The Circle of Life Award honors palliative programs that:

·  Serve people with life-limiting illness, their families and their communities;

·  Demonstrate effective, patient/family-centered, timely, safe, efficient and equitable palliative and end-of-life care;

·  Use innovative approaches to meet critical needs and serve as sustainable, replicable models for a segment of the field, particularly for marginalized populations;

·  Pursue quality improvement consistent with the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, NHPCO Standards of Practice for Hospice Programs or other widely-accepted standards, within their resources and capabilities;

·  Address medical, psychosocial, spiritual and cultural needs throughout the disease trajectory;

·  Actively partner with other healthcare organizations, education and training programs, the community, providers of care, and/or insurers; and

·  Use metrics that demonstrate significant impact and value for individuals, families and communities.